AlmanacSquare March 7, 2017

Days Until. . .

St. Patrick’s Day–March 17

St. Joseph’s Day–19

Easter–April 1

Annals Of Restaurant Reservations

In 1876 on this date Alexander Graham Bell was granted the patent for the telephone, thereby allowing us to call restaurants to reserve tables. What did people do to get a spot in the dining room before the phone was in widespread use? Perhaps reservations were not needed, or the reservation concept was not in existence. This bears some research.

Annals Of Food Research

Today is the birthday, in 1849, of the botanist Luther Burbank. He developed at least 800 new breeds of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and showed the way to generate many more of them. We owe him a debt for the great diversity of food on our tables.

Today’s Flavor

It is Crown Roast of Pork Day. This is what passed for gourmet food in America during the first half of the 1900s. It is a grand presentation: an entire rack of pork chops curled in a circle, with some sort of stuffing in the center. However, no part of the dish cooks well. The chops themselves get steamed more than roasted, and that makes them either too tough if cooked to the proper temperature, or juiceless if cooked beyond that. This is one we ought to rename Crown Roast of Pork Memorial Day.

This is also noted as National Cereal Day. That’s because on this date in 1897, Dr. John Kellogg began serving corn flakes to the patients in a mental hospital. His brother William K. Kellogg, who started the cereal company that bears his name, improved on the flakes by adding sugar to them to make them taste better. The two Kellogg guys had some nutty ideas about health, but they did introduce a great new way to incorporate more grains into the modern diet.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Celeryville, Ohio is in the north-central part of the state, on the south side of Willard, in a large area of farms, mostly growing corn. However, they historically did grow a good deal of celery in the area, hence the name. The popular restaurant is the 224 Varsity Club, with a menu ranging from steaks to pizza, and a sports bar.

Edible Dictionary

Dutch baby, n.–An unusual kind of pancake, made by baking a rather light, runny, eggy batter in a preheated cast-iron skillet in a very hot oven. As it bakes, it spreads, forcing the sides to rise above the rim of the skillet. The texture is like that of a soufflee, but a little heavier. The classic way to serve it is with a squeeze of lemon juice and powdered sugar. A Dutch baby is a smaller and more popular version of the German pancake, which is a bit harder to handle at home. Both were made popular by the Original Pancake House, an old, loose chain of breakfast specialists around the country.

Ancient History Today

Today in 321, Emperor Constantine decreed that the official weekly day off for the Roman Empire would be Sunday, the day honoring the pagan sun gods. Although most (but not all) Christians already considered Sunday their day of worship and rest, Constantine’s prominence as the first Christian emperor definitively gave mainstream acceptance to Sunday over Saturday. So you have Constantine to blame for the Sunday closing of the restaurant you really wanted to dine in. And for Sunday brunch.

Deft Dining Rule #128:

Sunday is the chef’s day off, and tied with Monday for the worst day to dine in an ambitious restaurant. This remains true for Sunday brunch–unless that’s the only time any local people ever go to the place. The very finest restaurants admit the accuracy of this rule by closing on Sundays and Mondays.

The Saints

Today is the dual feast day of St. Felicity and St. Perpetua, who were friends and both patron saints of cows. (Don’t even think “Holy cow!”)

Food Namesakes

Tammy Faye Bakker, the televangelist with the overdone makeup, was born today in 1942. . . Matthew Fisher, who plays the baroque-sounding organ on Procol Harem’s A Whiter Shade of Pale, was born today in 1946. . . Rachel Rice, actress, model, and English teacher in Wales, began to live today in 1984.

Words To Eat By

“If I go down for anything in history, I would like to be known as the person who convinced the American people that catfish is one of the finest eating fishes in the world.”–Willard Scott, born today in 1934.

Words To Drink By

“The greatest luxury of riches is that they enable you to escape so much good advice.”–Sir Arthur Helps, British writer, who was born on this date in 1813, and died on this date in 1875.

1 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. DHB on March 7, 2014

    Willard was weatherman when Bryant Gumbel stated catfish had to be purged before being consumed. Both working on Today show. Dust-up ensued.